It was a real culture shock for me to be back at home. Apart from the holidays, for the best part of four years I’d been out drinking every single night, gone where I wanted to go and with whom I wanted. I was used to coming back at whatever time I wanted and doing any college work when I felt like it. Suddenly I was back in a busy semi-detached house with Mum, Dad, Neil and Ruth. I had my own little bedroom but it was just that – a bedroom. The living space was shared again. Ruth was at college and Neil was at Sheffield University finishing his Masters Degree, so we all had work to do and the only place to do it was on the dining room table – a table where mum usually had her sewing machine. It was home and I loved it dearly, but after the freedom I’d become used to it felt stifling and, of course, I couldn’t just go out every night, partly because it wouldn’t have been fair on my parents but also because all my really close friends of the past four years weren’t there anymore. My only real escape was to retreat into my room, plug the headphones into the big old radiogram that was in there (dad had bought a new “music centre”) and shut myself off into my music. Over the summer holidays, “The Only Fun In Town” by Josef K was on the record player constantly. The scratchy guitar and barely proficient playing was reminiscent of the Fast Product album from a couple of years before but, as with that one, the spirit in the music was infectious. Hidden in the lo-fi production were some great songs, kicking off with the frantic “Fun N Frenzy” and “Revelation” and continuing with the slower “It’s Kinda Funny” and the beautiful (to me) “Sorry For a Laughing”. It made me realise how much I missed performing with Short Supply and knew I had to go out and do something. Anything!
That August, we had what I think everyone knew would be our last proper family holiday, travelling in the VW Caravette to Annecy in France. We have always got on well as a family and we had a great time but I was feeling more and more out of sync with everyone. As soon as we returned home I started looking for folk clubs or pubs that had opportunities for floor singers, people who would get up and sing a couple of songs in between the main artists. I packed my guitar and went along to a few such nights and sang what I considered to be some of the more acceptable Short Supply songs to a generally stunned audience. Never having been to a folk club before, I didn’t realise quite how out of place the songs would be! Everyone was so serious and intense. I always thought the bearded bloke with leather elbow patches on a big baggy knitted jumper, singing with his eyes closed and his finger in his ear was a comedy sketch cliche. Not so. These people existed. And here was I, muscling in, singing songs about wearing bicycle clips and pissing up walls. They laughed and clapped politely but I decided pretty quickly that this wasn’t my audience! Back to the drawing board.